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Supreme Court denies bail for Sourn Serey Ratha

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Sourn Serey Ratha is serving a five-year sentence. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected bail for Sourn Serey Ratha, former president of the Khmer Power Party, who was convicted and jailed on charges of inciting military personnel to disobey orders.

Mr Serey Ratha, a frequent government critic, was seeking bail yesterday while awaiting for his Supreme Court appeal hearing date to be set. The Court of Appeal in October upheld his conviction.

Mr Serey Ratha was arrested in August 2017 after a brief border confrontation with Laos that saw armoured vehicles paraded around Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument and Prime Minister Hun Sen fly to Vientiane to negotiate a resolution after ordering troops to the border.

Mr Serey Ratha was charged after making comments about the confrontation with Laos on his Facebook page.

“The marshal orders the troops to be ready to attack, gives an ultimatum to his foe, but bows down his head and enters his adversary’s barracks, asking for negotiation,” he wrote.

Kong Srim, the Supreme Court’s presiding judge, said yesterday that Mr Serey Ratha would not be granted bail while awating his Supreme Court appeal hearing.

“The Supreme Court rejects the request for bail and upholds the Court of Appeal’s decision on October 12 to also reject bail,” he said.

In August, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Mr Serey Ratha to five years in jail on the charges of inciting military personnel to disobedience, demoralisation of the army, and incitement to commit felony.

Mr Serey Ratha, 44, said during the bail hearing yesterday that he needed to be outside prison while awaiting his trial in order to care for his family.

“Please judges, grant me bail so that I can take care of my old mother and feed my two children,” he said. “I will still appear for my Supreme Court appeal hearing.”

Nai Chakrya, Mr Serey Ratha’s wife, said after the bail hearing that she felt robbed of justice.

“We received no justice,” Ms Chakrya said “It is very regretful that the court did not grant bail.”

Chan Rapisith, a lawyer representing Mr Serey Ratha, said no sufficient reasons had been provided for any of the bail denials.

Mr Serey Ratha was previously convicted of incitement in 2015 and sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison. He had fled the country after the 2013 national election when he was branded a terrorist by the government. He returned in 2015 following a royal pardon.

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